by Mohamud Ibrahim Ali
Friday, January 11, 2013
As a child who grew up in Dadaab refugee camp, I always thought about being a refugee and what it means to be identified as ‘ a refugee’. I also pondered about when being a refugee ends and how people in other parts of the world live their lives without been encamped in a refugee camp like I was. Now that I live in America trying to live a normal life, finding a true identity of who I am and who I want to become is tougher when my people are still in refugee camps around the world.
When your hear Somalia, things that come to your mind to find a meaning to the word “Somalia” or even a synonyms for it are; refugees, wars, famine, terrorism and piracy. Unfortunately, nothing positive is associated with Somalia at all. Historically, Somalis have many positive things to show off, but this history is living in the shadow of 22 years of undignified Somali-being in which we were and still are at the receiving end of the world.
Being a refugee is not a choice but rather a condition in which people are forced to live miserably in camps or places where they would not have been without the necessitating factor.
As a child growing up in a refugee camp, I always longed for an identity other than that of being a refugee. I always thought exiting the camp would be the end of being a refugee and the beginning of a new journey to a new identity. Yes I live in the greatest nation on earth, of course a citizen of the United States and a college graduate, but what does this mean when you are from Dadaab refugee camp- the world’s largest refugee camp. My freedom as a person hinges on the freedom of refugees in Dadaab camp and elsewhere in the world. I cannot shrug off the identity of being a refugee as long as the Somali people are perishing in refugee camps around the world.
Freedom is not when you can move around with a passport or drive a decent car or a degree from a prestigious college, but rather it is when your state of mind tells you “ I am part of a society or a nation that is at peace with itself and with its neighbors” – this is the true meaning of ‘freedom’. For me, I do not fit in this category of freedom. Remember, regardless of the material wealth one has, no one is ever dignified when his/her people live on a feeding tube every day.
Your human dignity is at its best when you can care for yourself without relying on donations and gifts from someone else. I hope Somalia will stand on its feet once more and help the Somali refugees regain their identity. For my case, I am always a refugee as long as there are Somali refugees, how about you?
Mohamud Ibrahim Ali